“We want our students to know that education is about taking risks and being willing to think aggressively about the topics under consideration.”
Bobby Puckett '13 says his class in American Constitutional Development was "a truly unique experience." Not only was it a new class on the Transylvania curriculum, it also was team-taught by President Owen Williams and Don Dugi, a popular political science professor.
"President Williams's insight and perspective on the subject added a challenging and enriching element, and his passion for students' education and personal development was entirely manifest," says Puckett. "But one of my favorite aspects of the class was the combination of Dr. Williams and Dr. Dugi. The dichotomy between their personalities made it very entertaining, yet at the same time the way they collaborated made it one of the best classes I've taken at Transylvania."
The course explored the development of American constitutionalism, especially through our constitutional law. Focusing on the historical approach allowed Williams to share his expertise on American history (he has a Ph.D. from Yale) and law (he has an M.S.L. from Yale and completed fellowships at Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, and New York University School of Law).
This wasn't the first time that Williams had taught a class at Transylvania. In 2010, during his first academic term as president, he led a group discussion of Wendell Berry's novel A World Lost. All first-year students read and discussed the book as part of the First Engagements program, which introduced them to the rigorous analysis and collaborative learning experience expected at Transylvania. First Engagements has now been expanded into August term.
"The book discussions teach students to be flexible, to think extemporaneously, and to articulate their thoughts in a brief and succinct way," says Williams. "All of that makes you part of a bigger discussion that is a college education."